Justin Guterding knows the naysayers have dubbed 2013 a "bad season" for Garden City, a team that had five offensive starters graduate from last year's undefeated state championship run.
The senior also knows Shoreham-Wading River's Tim Rotanz, who a few days prior became Long Island's fourth 400-point career scorer, was the best attackman on the lacrosse field Saturday -- not Guterding, which is rare.
Yet, as the sky darkened at Garden City, the Trojans' brightest star chose the most opportune time to shine.
With 14 seconds left in regulation, Guterding scored the go-ahead goal while jumping from about 10 yards away. Rotanz one-upped him seconds later with a goal to send the game into overtime.
But Guterding reclaimed the glory -- and the game. As defenders swarmed to double-team him from behind the net two minutes into overtime, Guterding dumped a pass to Jack Worstell for the winner.
"We lost a lot of guys on offense from last year obviously, and it feels good to put the team on my back and get this last one," said Guterding after the 10-9 non-league thriller. "We were 11-3 going into this game and people are saying we're having a bad season. It's not "Garden City," but we're doing all we can and we're going to make a run at the county championship."
The road to that championship will start tomorrow in a Conference B first round playoff matchup against Bethpage. But first the Trojans (12-3) had to navigate through a home game against previously unbeaten Shoreham-Wading River (14-1), and it was never smooth sailing.
Coach Steve Finnell said he told his team that if the Wildcats had the ball it looked as if they were going to score so Garden City needed to control time of possession. Using that strategy, the Trojans held SWR to four goals after the first as Garden City chipped away at the lead.
"Rotanz is one of the best in the country," Guterding said. "I guess it was the battle of the attackmen today."
And Saturday, Guterding was the winner.